You can’t always solve a problem by throwing money at it. In fact, you might just cause one instead.
Air travel can be scary, and so uneasy travelers often take solace in some sort of soothing pre-flight ritual. Some enjoy a stiff drink before boarding. Others calm their nerves by listening to relaxing music.
And then there’s the 80-year-old Chinese woman with the family name Qiu.
On July 27, Qiu was at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport where she was scheduled to hop on a flight for Guangzhou with her husband, daughter, and son-in-law. Rather than entering the aircraft through a jet bridge that connects the gate and aircraft, the passengers for the 12:40 p.m. China Southern Airlines flight boarded from the tarmac.
Before getting aboard, Qiu said a quick prayer for a safe flight. Lots of travelers no doubt do something similar, but Qiu then decided to punctuate her divine request by throwing a handful of coins towards the plane’s exposed engine intakes, ostensibly under the not-incorrect logic that the properly working engines are an essential part of air travel safety.
While eight of the nine coins Qiu tossed ended up falling back on the tarmac, a single disc, in what you could arguably call either a lucky or unlucky toss, found its way into the engine’s internal mechanisms. Thankfully, the problem was noticed before takeoff, and all of the roughly 150 passengers were removed from the plane while a safety inspection took place. The procedure ended up taking over five hours, with the plane finally on its way at 6:16 p.m.
Qiu has no previous criminal record, and her motivation appears to have been nothing more than a misguided attempt to ensure a safe trip for herself and her fellow passengers. Nevertheless, the incident serves as an important reminder that while there are a number of surcharges and fees involved in air travel, there’s no need to tip the flight crew or flying machine.
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